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WIC Alerts

Colorado WIC has more food options to improve nutrition for low-income women and children
 
Recent federal confirmation of interim food choices, along with some new options, offer participants of the Colorado Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program more flexibility and better nutrition. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced improvements to the WIC food package in March as part of continued efforts to improve nutrition for nearly 100,000 of the state’s low-income mothers and children.
 
“Soon, every WIC mother will have better access to the nutrients she needs for a healthy pregnancy and birth,” said Patricia Daniluk, director of Colorado WIC at the state health department. “WIC children will have a better chance to grow up healthy and be ready to learn when they start school.”
During the past several years, the USDA has improved nutrition flexibility for state WIC programs, adding fresh fruit and vegetable, whole grain and low-fat milk options for participants. On Feb. 28, USDA made those changes permanent, increased the fresh fruit and vegetable stipend from $6 to $8 per child and expanded food options to include:
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables in lieu of a portion of jarred infant food for older infants
  • Whole wheat pasta as a whole grain option
  • Yogurt as a partial milk substitute
  • Jack mackerel added to the fish options
  • Requirements of only 1% or nonfat milk for children older than 2 years and women
  •  
Along with the expanded options, the USDA made permanent some interim food options that were established in 2009:
  • Addition of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grain cereals and breads
  • Baby foods – fruits and vegetables for all infants and meat for exclusively breastfed infants
  • Soy beverage and tofu as a milk substitute
  • Brown rice, bulgur, oatmeal, soft corn or whole wheat tortillas as a substitute for whole wheat bread
  • Canned beans as a substitute for dried beans
  • Canned salmon, sardines and mackerel as a substitute for canned tuna
  • Reduced quantities of milk, eggs, juice and cheese for women and children. Juice is eliminated from infant packages. Reduced quantities of infant formula for breastfed and older infants.
  •  
Recent research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the WIC food package as a contributing factor in the decline in obesity rates among low-income preschoolers in many states. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said WIC food package updates were made to meet the diverse nutritional needs of mothers and young children and are based on the recommendations of the National Academies” Institute of Medicine, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and thousands of public comments.  Colorado WIC will review recent USDA changes and plan statewide implementation to ensure food packages meet the needs of Colorado WIC participants.
 The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a federally funded program that provides nutrition and breastfeeding education, nutritious foods and improved health care for low- and moderate-income women and children with, or at risk of developing, nutrition-related health problems. In Colorado, 94,000 participants receive WIC benefits each month.
More information about the changes and the WIC program can be found at www.fns.usda.gov/wic. Colorado WIC information can be found at www.ColoradoWIC.com.
 
 
  
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Information for Local Agencies

Following is information of importance to local agencies

No notices at this time 

 

Important information for WIC Retailers

Following is information of importance to retailers


MEMO:
Colorado WIC EBT Update
March 10, 2014
 
WIC EBT is an electronic system that replaces paper WIC checks with a card for food benefit issuance and redemption at authorized WIC grocery stores.  Federal rules (the provisions set forth in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010) mandate that all WIC State agencies implement EBT systems by October 1, 2020. So as you may have seen, many WIC Programs across the nation are in various stages of planning for or implementing WIC EBT within the next several years. 
 
Colorado WIC is one of those programs going forward with EBT.  We will send updates like this one periodically to keep you in the loop of the progress and will also be establishing opportunities to participate.  
 
Why EBT?
Moving toward EBT is an exciting move for us; for a listing of just some of the many benefits of an EBT payment process for customers, retailers and WIC agencies see below at the bottom of this message.
 
Who?
Colorado WIC begins work this summer to fall with a team from  FIS Government Solutions  and their partners at Custom Data Processing (CDP) on the procurement and implementation of an on-line EBT payment process.
 
When?
There is much to be done and the implementation will not be accomplished overnight.  There are many steps yet to be finalized.  Some of the main steps include design, development and testing of modifications to the system as well as related to the integration with retailer point-of-sale; training WIC and store staff and WIC clients; development of business processes and policy; a detailed approved UPC/PLU product list, and deploying the infrastructure and numerous technical mechanisms. 
 
While the specific timelines are not yet established, we are expecting that work will begin this summer to fall in engaging our stakeholders- such as the authorized retailers- in the process.  We will keep you informed as the time frames are developed.
 
How?
We are committed to a team approach that enables our partners--including retailers, clinic staff and WIC customers--to provide input and share their expertise from the development process through to implementation of the EBT system.  In the coming seasons, we will routinely communicate with retailers and will establish methods to exchange necessary information.
 
Thanks so much for your partnership.  As we know more details and time frames, we will provide those to you.  Feel free to share your input, questions, comments with us any time.
Thank you.
 
 
There are many advantages to the move to an EBT payment process, including:
  • WIC customers have real time access to their account balances, transaction histories and customer services (e.g., lost/stolen card notification and replacement and PIN changes) without a trip to their clinic.
  • Retailers know, at the time of the transaction, how much they will be reimbursed for the purchase and, generally, receive payment the next business day.
  • The benefit issuance is simplified for clinic staff, as well as resolving lost and stolen card issues.
  • Customers are able to shop for what they need, when they need it; there is no need to buy everything listed on a check at the same trip to the store.
  • Retailer shelf stocking is easier.
  • The WIC transaction is more discreet for the customer.
  • Store cashiers can reduce their focus on allowed versus non-allowed items and verification of a WIC ID folder so the transactions are easier and faster.
     


MEMO
To:   Colorado WIC-Authorized Grocers
From:   Retailer Unit, Colorado WIC Program
 
Subjects:  Peer Group Assignment and New Shelf Price List Form
 
Date:   February 28, 2014
 
Hello,
Federal regulations (7 CFR Part 246) require State WIC agencies to implement a vendor peer group system (i.e., grouping like stores together), competitive price criteria, and allowable reimbursement levels to ensure that the WIC Program pays authorized vendors competitive prices. These systems are routinely evaluated to identify ways to streamline them and improve efficiency and customer service.  
A recent evaluation resulted in several enhancements.
 
• Shelf Price List: A new—easier-to-use—shelf price list has been developed.  Please begin using the new form with your next submission.  The form is available on the website: www.Coloradowic.com under the retailer tab. After April 1, older versions of the form will not be accepted.
• Peer Groups:  Several retailers have been re-assigned to a new peer group level.  Store location(s) peer group designations were recently provided to the holders of WIC agreement. 
 
Details on using the new shelf price list form and the peer group structure are below.  If you have questions, please contact Cheryl Cassell at (303) 692-2454 or Becca Polk at (303) 692-2448.
 
Thank you for your assistance and your continuing support of the WIC Program. As always, grocers are an important part of our food delivery system and we value your participation.
 
Sincerely,
Colorado WIC
 
Tips for using the new Shelf Price List
  • Six Months: The federal regulations require WIC programs to receive shelf price lists at least every six months from retailers. The next round of required submissions is due this spring. We’ll send reminders out sometime in April.  However, we accept your shelf price lists year round.
  • Accuracy: As shelf prices change—it is to a store’s advantage to submit a new shelf price list.  The amount that WIC reimburses your store for WIC items purchased is based on the prices submitted by retailers on the shelf price lists.  Please complete as thoroughly as possible so there is WIC check success.
  • Highest Allowed: Please enter the HIGHEST cost WIC ALLOWED item that your store stocks within each category. For example for the peanut butter: enter the price for the most expensive WIC-allowed peanut butter that your store carries in stock for sale.
  • Allowable Foods List:  Use the foods list to correctly identify WIC allowed items.
  • Name and Size: Certain items on the form do require additional information.  These cells are highlighted.  Specifically, when you enter a price for cereal, the brand name and number of ounces should be added; when you enter a price for cereal, bread, salmon/sardines or tortillas, the number of ounces should be added.
  • Brand Names Optional: Providing the brand names for areas not highlighted is optional. (Other than cereal, writing the brand names of items—while helpful to us—is not necessary.)
  • Back Page: Page 2 lists optional formula items; provide prices for any of the items that your store does stock. If your store does not stock an item, simply leave the price for that formula item blank.
  • Effective: Please begin using the new price list immediately.  The older version of the form/ spreadsheet will not be accepted after April 1, 2014.
  • New Version: Replace the Shelf Price List in your store’s WIC Binder with this new version.
  • Format: The Shelf Price List can be sent electronically via excel spreadsheet or via a hard copy.
  • Website: The current version of the form is also available on the website—Coloradowic.com—under the retailer tab.
  • Sign and Date: Please include your store name and number, contact information and the date.
Colorado WIC Peer Group Criteria and Assignment Criteria & Method
A vendor is assigned a peer group based on criteria developed by Colorado WIC that classifies the type (i.e., supermarket, small to medium grocery, supercenter, pharmacy, commissary, farmer), the geographic area (i.e., metropolitan, rural, resort area), and, in order to incorporate consideration of the vendor’s supply and distribution infrastructure, the number of WIC-authorized stores owned and operated in Colorado (i.e., Minor= <30 or Major= ≥30). The State agency may change a vendor's peer group whenever it determines that placement in an alternate peer group is warranted. The State agency must use these criteria to evaluate retailer prices and retailer authorization. Shelf prices must be found at application and remain to be found competitive with retailers with the same peer group to within 10%.
 
Based on the criteria, the peer group assignments for Colorado WIC-authorized retailers are currently as follows:
Peer Group 1: 
     Commissaries, Pharmacies and Supercenters (Major Ownership)
Peer Group 2:
     Supermarkets (Major Ownership) and Supercenters (Minor Ownership)
Peer Group 3:
     Supermarkets (Minor Ownership) and Small/ Medium Grocery (Metro)
Peer Group 4:
     Small/ Medium Grocery (Rural)
Peer Group 5:
     Farmers
Peer Group 6: 
     Small/ Medium Grocery (Resort / Emerging Resort Areas)
 
If you have questions, please contact Cheryl Cassell at (303) 692-2454 / cheryl.cassell@state.co.us or Becca Polk at (303) 692-2448/ becca.polk@state.co.us.

Benefit Delivery, CO WIC Program
Prevention Services Division
Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, CO  80246-1530
FAX 303-756-9926
cheryl.cassell@state.co.us
becca.polk@state.co.us 

Mead Johnson formula label and name changes

Mead Johnson has informed CO WIC of several upcoming changes to their formula items:
1. Label: The graphics on most of their formula products will be updated—with no change in UPC.
2. Name:  They are removing the word “PREMIUM” so that Enfamil Premium Infant will be named Enfamil Infant—with no change in UPC.  (See below to view the item.)
 
A couple of important points:
  • Mead Johnson has reported that expected timing will place cans with the new labels on grocery shelves sometime this spring to early summer. 
  • To ease the transition--within the next few weeks CO WIC will start to list the item as Enfamil (Premium) Infant on WIC checks .
  • In this way, the customer may purchase the item with either the old or the new name. 
  • After the stores across Colorado have had a chance to complete the transition, WIC will then list the new name—“Enfamil Infant”—on checks.
  • Colorado WIC will include more details of the changes in the upcoming WIC’S WORLD newsletter. 
  • To avoid any confusion, please share this notice with store managers, cashiers and inventory staff.
 
 
New Enfamil label

12.9 oz powder
No Change in UPC
Unit UPC – 300871365421
Case UPC – 300871365025
WIC checks will show:   Enfamil (Premium) Infant
 
For information and/or questions specific to Mead Johnson, please contact them directly. 
 
 

 
 

Recap of 2014 WIC Policies

 
From: Colorado WIC, Benefit Delivery Unit
To: Authorized Retailers
cc/fyi: Local WIC Agencies, Various State WIC
 
A couple of WIC policies became effective January 1, 2014. Below is a recap of some of the main changes.  
  • Customer Signature at Check-out: Retailers are required to obtain the WIC customer's signature on the WIC check at the time of the WIC transaction and compare that signature with the WIC ID envelope.  Please be sure to obtain the WIC customer's signature at the time of the WIC transaction.   WIC will no longer offer assistance in asking the customer to return to the store to sign a WIC check that was not signed.   WIC had allowed for a process for the store to contact the local agency and request the local agency to contact the WIC client, asking that they return to the store to sign the check.  This option is no longer available.  As always, retailers are not to contact clients directly about missing signatures.  Checks rejected for missing the customer's signature cannot be negotiated or replaced. 
  • Integrity: The State WIC Agency identifies 'high risk' retailers at least annually.  To identify retailers that are high risk, WIC reviews past history of WIC or SNAP violations and/or abuse, referrals from WIC participants, WIC clinic staff, citizen and retailer referrals.  WIC also reviews the store's transactions to detect retailers that may be considered high-risk.  Stores identified as high risk will be reviewed for a variety of follow-up activities including monitoring visits, compliance investigations, responding to findings with corrective action plans, and/or other types of training, store visits and contacts. 
  • Date and Location: Retailers must have a process to put both the date of the transaction and the location (i.e., store name and/or number) on the back of  WIC checks.  This information can be printed by the cash register system or written in by the cashier.  Failure to put the date and location on a WIC check is a 4 point violation.   (Retailers with a single Colorado WIC-authorized store--i.e., one store covered under the WIC Retailer Agreement-- are exempt from the requirement to enter the location.)
  • Full-Service Grocers: In order to provide for greater access to nutritious food options for WIC families, grocery stores authorized to take Colorado WIC checks must be full-service grocer stores.  They must meet at least one of the following criteria:
    • The store is identified by SNAP with a Store Type as a Large Grocery Store, Medium Grocery Store, Military Commissary, Small Grocery Store, Supermarket, Super Store/ Chain Store.
    • Annual food sales (i.e., food items eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits) are greater than or equal to 65 percent of total annual sales.
    • Annual food sales exceed $1 million.
  • Food Source: Retailers authorized to participate in the WIC Program shall purchase staple food items directly from a wholesaler supplier or other non-retail suppler, such as distributors, manufacturers, and/or fresh produce suppliers. Retailers will be required to produce purchase invoices upon request.
  • No Discrimination: Provided clarification that any practice that singles out WIC customers, including offering or denying incentives solely to WIC customers is considered discrimination and is prohibited.
  • Numbers of Items/ Minimum Quantity
    • Vendors with five or fewer cash registers must stock a minimum of five items within each food category listed on the Stocking Requirements. For example, small vendors must stock at least five pounds of cheese, five boxes of cereal, etc.
    • Vendors with six or more cash registers must stock a minimum of ten items within each food category.  For example, larger stores must stock 10 pounds of cheese, 10 boxes of cereal, etc.  (Variety requirements still apply.)
Details of these policies were sent a few months back with the renewal packets and are included in the 2014 WIC Retailer Handbook (Handbook).   (The Handbook can be found at:  www.coloradowic.com, go to Retailers, Retailers Authorization.) 
 
Please note: Store locations that are under a chain WIC Agreement will be sent their paper copies of the Handbook in the next several weeks.  Other retailers have already received their copies of the Handbook with their renewal packet.)
 
We are excited to begin 2014 working with such wonderful retail partners.   Thanks so much! 
Important information for WIC Participants

Following is important information for WIC participants

 
 

New WIC Clinic!

 
Denver Health will open a new WIC Clinic in May 2014. The Lowry Family Health Center will be located at 1001 Yosemite St. Please call 303-602-6550.

 

FAQ

  • Question: I have questions about WIC, who do I talk to?
Answer: Please contact your Local WIC Clinic if you have questions. Here is a list of clinics in Colorado:  Click here to see a list of WIC Clinics by county pdf file  
 
 
  • Question: What other food assistance resources are there?
Answer: The Supplimental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides monthly benefits to low-income households to buy the food needed for a nutritionally adequate diet. Call your county human services department or the state line at (303) 866-3122.
 
The Hunger Free Colorado Hotline  (855-855-4626)  is a multilingual toll-free number that connects Coloradans to needed food. It is a free “one-stop” resource that offers geographically-based referrals to both public and private food assistance programs throughout the state. If you are hearing impaired, call Relay Colorado at 711 or 1-800-659-2656.